(The following excerpt from Is Your Child A Budding Psychopath? Now There’s A Way To Find Out originally appeared on news.com.au on May 3, 2013. To view it in its entirety please click on link below.)
Brain scans can be used to identify children who may grow up to be psychopaths, scientists have discovered.
A study compared 37 boys with serious conduct problems, including causing harm to others, dishonesty, general aggression and other antisocial traits, with a control group of 18 boys who had no such behavioural issues.
Researchers placed them in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine that identifies which parts of the brain respond to stimulus.
The brains of ”problem children” showed reduced activity in the anterior cingulate cortex and in the insula, both of which are critical to empathy
Professor Paul Frick of the University of New Orleans – who was not involved in the study but specialises in childhood psychopathology – lists 10 warning signs to look for in youngsters:
1. They persistently hurt, bully or fight others, or violate their rights by stealing or vandalising.
2. They break major rules, such as running away from home or staying out late.
3. They show no guilt when told off for doing wrong, e.g., pushing another child into the road.
4. They show a persistent callous disregard for other people’s feelings — not just siblings (e.g., pushing another child off a swing and being unmoved by their distress).
5. They persistently don’t care about how well they do in, say, school, even when the expectations are clear and they are capable.
6. They seem cold and unfeeling, only showing emotions to intimidate or manipulate.
7. They blame others for their mistakes, rather than accept responsibility themselves.
8. They are fearless and like doing novel and dangerous activities.
9. They are unmoved by the threat of punishment (e.g., ‘if you do that, I am going to take away your bike’).
10. They are highly motivated by reward or what they’ll get out of something, even if it hurts others (e.g., stealing).